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Achieving Harmony: Tuning into Practice
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Thursday, June 18 • 3:00pm - 3:30pm
CON07.02 - The leaking pipeline: Can empathy help to reduce attrition in STEM?

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Seymour (1997) discusses how numerous studies have found that the apathetic environment found in STEM classrooms is the most frequently cited reason students leave. This chilly environment is typified by a feeling that faculty don't care about students and that students are not 'gifted' enough to be successful in these fields. Student confidence and motivation are critical issues that need to be addressed, and we believe we can make a difference. Tinto (2006) states that faculty engagement, especially in first year courses, is critical to enhancing student retention. We report on a web-based learning tool that allows students to work through a number of problem-based active learning activities that coincide with each week’s content. In our course, topics build upon each other, and it is important to identify and support students that fall behind early. To support student confidence, the tool provides a pressure-free environment to investigate the material, step-by-step hints, and support for further questions. Veletsianos (2014) reminds us that simply replacing the medium in which material is presented, without changing the underlying practices of instruction, will have little impact on learning. Our tool collects usage data, allowing us to revisit problems, and to answer all of the student’s questions areas before progressing onto new material. This helps to show we do care about their success. Through a preliminary qualitative assessment, we report on the impact our approach has had with respect to student confidence, metacognition, and the ability for an individual to envision success in computer science. 

Seymour, E., & Hewitt, N. M. (1997). Talking about leaving: Why undergraduates leave the sciences (Vol. 12). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Tinto, V. (2006). Research and practice of student retention: what next?.Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice, 8(1), 1-19.

Veletsianos, G. (2014). The significance of educational technology history and research. eLearn, 2014(11), 1.

Thursday June 18, 2015 3:00pm - 3:30pm PDT
Bayshore Salon EF

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